The Newman Civic Fellows Award honors inspiring college student leaders who have demonstrated an investment in finding solutions for challenges facing communities throughout the country. Through service, research, and advocacy, Newman Civic Fellows are making the most of their college experiences to better understand themselves, the root causes of social issues, and effective mechanisms for creating lasting change. These students represent the next generation of public problem solvers and civic leaders. They serve as national examples of the role that higher education can—and does—play in building a better world. The Newman Civic Fellows Awards are made possible through the generous support of the KPMG Foundation.
William Law, University of Rhode Island
William (Bill) Law III, is a junior Biological Sciences and Spanish double major at the University of Rhode Island with plans to become a doctor. He understands the importance of addressing social concerns from multiple angles and with great respect and care. He takes his time to fully understand a community prior to entering it to serve. He is conscientious, focused and reflective. He is also a fierce student both in and outside the classroom. Mr. Law takes advantage of every opportunity to learn about the world around him and become engaged on a deeper level. He challenges not only himself but those around him to examine their actions and relative consequences in order to make sure we are truly striving to make a difference and leave positive ripples of change behind. He does this by serving as President of URI S.A.V.E.S. (a volunteering club), Scholarships for Service AmeriCorps member and co-leader of the annual Alternative Spring Break trip. Mr. Law is the ideal nominee for this award as he demonstrates all the qualities and values of Frank Newman particularly a relentless optimism and ability to put himself at the service of others.
Morgan Rayner, Salve Regina University
Morgan Rayner, a third year student at Salve Regina University, is an active student leader striving to build a strong campus community. Over the past three years Morgan has demonstrated her efforts through her dedication to service, her residents and fellow classmates. She has completed over 600 hours of service since she began her first year at Salve Regina at a local non-profit. In addition, she has organized and participated in many community and international service opportunities. Morgan is a Resident Advisor assisting in the daily life of 50 residents, acting as a counselor, friend, educator and policy enforcer. She spent her past summer welcoming the Class of 2017 as an Orientation Leader, demonstrating her interpersonal and organizational skills. She continues to represent the Salve Regina student voices in her role as a Student Government Senator, Institutional Disability Advisory Committee Student Representative, and as the Class of 2015 Social Work Department Student Representative. She is a recognized leader among her classmates and by the Salve Regina faculty and staff. Morgan has a passion for representing the student voice to create positive change on the Salve Regina University campus.
Gretta Schaaf, Providence College
Gretta Schaaf is a junior Public and Community Service Studies major at Providence College. Since her first semester on campus, Gretta has engaged in thoughtful community engagement around issues of education and justice through her work with the EXPLORE! program. The mission of EXPLORE! is to “promote awareness of, access to, and readiness for college and career among first-generation urban high school students.” Through her long-term commitment to the students at the Academy for Career Exploration, Gretta has built relationships with school leaders and students, facilitating conversations about how to empower students to imagine their future within higher education and professional careers. As the Service-Learning Assistant within the Feinstein Institute for Public Service, Gretta has also supported the broader work of cultivating reciprocal partnerships between the College and community organizations. She acts as a thought partner and collaborator around issues such as service-learning orientation and training, student leadership development, and reflection. Gretta approaches her work in community with a deep sense of civic responsibility, a compassionate concern for the human dignity of her neighbors, and a focus on cultivating sustainable partnerships.
Steven Dominguez, Johnson & Wales University
Steven Dominguez, a junior Culinary Nutrition major at Johnson & Wales University (JWU), is passionate about bringing healthy foods to those who need it most. Through his work with the Nutrition Society at JWU, he has recruited students to help him provide culinary nutrition demonstrations at local farmers’ markets, schools, senior centers and a children’s hospital. He is concerned not only with the nutrition-related risks of food insecurity and obesity, but is also committed to addressing the root causes, including low-income families’ lack of access to healthy, affordable foods. He wants to become involved in food policy and sustainability issues, by teaching people how to grow and cook their own food, as well as developing replicable models of sustainable communities. He has worked with JWU chefs and administrators to begin a hydroponic garden on campus, has helped engage other academic departments in the work and is looking for potential community links as well. Steven’s ability to “think big” while focusing and planning small steps has put him on track to achieve his goal of “leading the country one step closer to ending the hunger/obesity epidemic” and making a more healthy, self-sufficient America.
Gina DiBona, Rhode Island College
Gina Dibona works in the President’s Office at Rhode Island College and has excellent communication skills, which are of major importance as she is the first person to greet visitors who come to the President’s wing. She always has a positive attitude and never hesitates to help when assistance is needed. She also works on campus as a Learning for Life navigator where she empowers students at Rhode Island College through peer- to- peer support, a series of initiatives which contribute to their success and which enables them to be productive members of our community. Gina actively assists students with financial goal setting, skill building, career planning, academic planning, social connections, transportation, and more. In her time at Rhode Island College, she has collaborated with other departments on campus such as the Counseling Center, Unity Center, Career Development Center, and Disability Service. Gina is mature, competent, empathetic, and has great work ethic. She will bring a high level of caring and compassion to any work she does in the future.